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September 24, 2013

Regional schools set elementary study panel

A task force incorporating officials and residents from both towns is poised to take a look at three elementary school options within the Manchester Essex Regional School District.

The district is still gathering input through surveys, and has a number of meetings on the horizon, with school parents also having a role on the task force.

Manchester’s Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 last week to have first-year Selectman Eli Boling represent the town, while Essex will be sending Selectmen Susan Coviello, who formerly served on and led the regional school committee.

Others on the task force include members of the finance committees from each town, parents from preschools, at large residents and parents of school children as well as co-chairs Caroline Weld and James Haskell of the regional school committee.

“I think we’ve known for quite some time we are going to have to do something about the state of the elementary schools,” Boling said Monday.

While Gloucester has ruled out a single unified school, it’s one of three options under consideration for the regional district.

Others include renovating and repair each of the current schools with the current grade schedule, or having a renovated Essex Elementary house students from pre-kindergarten through second grade, while a revitalized Manchester Memorial would serve those in Grades 3-5.

“We have to try and find out what the towns want from a cultural standpoint,” Boling said.

He said the task force and the path to new or renovated elementary schools is just beginning.

The panel is set to meet with local constituent groups and have a report ready in November.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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